Gholvad Sapota (chikoo)
Why in News?
- In a major boost to exports of Geographical Indication (GI) certified products, a consignment of Dahanu Gholvad Sapota from Palghar district of Maharashtra was shipped to the United Kingdom.
- GI certification of Ghovad Sapota is held by Maharashtra Rajya Chikoo Utpadak Sangh and the fruit is known for its sweet and unique taste.
- It is believed that the unique taste is derived from calcium rich soil of Gholvad village.
- Sapota is grown in many states- Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh.
- Karnataka is known to be the highest grower of the fruit, followed by Maharashtra.
- It can be used in fruit salads, blended into milk or yogurt, as a smoothie or processed to make a jam out of it.
What is GI?
- According to the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), it is an agricultural, natural or a manufactured product, originating from a specific geographical area due to which it possesses unique characteristics and qualities.
- GI tag is basically an assurance that the product is coming from that specific area.
- It’s kind of trademark in the international market.
Oxygen Recycling System
Why in News?
- Amidst the second wave of COVID-19, the Diving School of the Southern Naval Command of the Indian Navy has conceptualised and designed an ‘Oxygen Recycling System’ (ORS) to alleviate the existing Oxygen (O2) shortages.
- The ORS is designed to extend the life of the existing medical O2 cylinders two to four times, using the fact that only a small percentage of O2 inhaled by a patient is actually absorbed by the lungs, the rest being exhaled into the atmosphere along with carbon-dioxide (CO2) produced by the body.
- This exhaled O2 can be re-used, provided the exhaled CO2 is removed.
- To achieve this, the ORS adds a second pipe to the patient’s existing O2 mask, which sucks out the air exhaled by a patient using a low-pressure motor.
Why in News?
- Amid the increasing instances of mucormycosis or black fungus, which is primarily affecting people recovering from COVID-19, the Rajasthan government declared it an epidemic and a notifiable disease. It will be mandatory for the health facilities to report every case of the disease in the State.
- Mucormycosis appears as a side effect among COVID-19 patients who are put on oxygen support through liquid medical oxygen cylinders or oxygen concentrators.
- The notification was issued under the Rajasthan Epidemic Act, 2020.
- A rare but serious fungal infection, known as mucormycosis and colloquially as “black fungus”, is being detected relatively frequently among Covid-19 patients in some states. The disease often manifests in the skin and also affects the lungs and the brain.
What is the disease?
- Although rare, it is a serious infection. It is caused by a group of moulds known as mucormycetes present naturally in the environment.
- It mainly affects people who are on medication for health problems that reduces their ability to fight environmental pathogens.
- Sinuses or lungs of such individuals get affected after they inhale fungal spores from the air.
- Usually, mucormycetes does not pose a major threat to those with a healthy immune system.
What happens when one contracts it?
- Warning signs include pain and redness around the eyes or nose, with fever, headache, coughing, shortness of breath, bloody vomits, and altered mental status.
- According to the advisory, infection with mucormycetes should be suspected when there is:
- Sinusitis — nasal blockade or congestion, nasal discharge (blackish/bloody);
- Local pain on the cheek bone, one-sided facial pain, numbness or swelling;
- Blackish discoloration over bridge of nose/palate;
- Loosening of teeth, jaw involvement;
- Blurred or double vision with pain;
- Thrombosis, necrosis, skin lesion;
- Chest pain, pleural effusion, worsening of respiratory symptoms.
What’s the treatment?
- While it is treated with antifungals, mucormycosis may eventually require surgery.
- it is of utmost importance to control diabetes, reduce steroid use, and discontinue immunomodulating drugs.
- To maintain adequate systemic hydration, the treatment includes infusion of normal saline (IV) before infusion of amphotericin B and antifungal therapy, for at least 4-6 weeks.
Why in News?
- Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta has appointed Court of Appeal Judge Martha Koome as the East African country’s first woman chief justice and head of the judiciary.
- She replaces David Maraga, who made history by leading the Supreme Court when it annulled Kenyatta’s 2017 re-election victory citing “illegalities and irregularities” and ordering a fresh election.
- Before that historic decision, it was unprecedented in Africa for an opposition party to succeed in getting a court decision to overturn a president’s election.
- Ms Koome was appointed as a judge in 2003 and served on the African Union Committee on the Rights and Welfare of Children between 2005 and 2010. She headed the Land and Environment Division of the High Court.
- Researchers studying tiny traces of plutonium-244 and radioactive iron-60 collected from deep ocean crust noted that the two isotopes could be evidence of violent cosmic events that took place near Earth millions of years ago.
- The story is complicated – possibly this plutonium-244 was produced in supernova explosions or it could be leftover from a much older, but even more spectacular event such as a neutron star detonation.
Catch the Sun
- Inspired by leaves on a plant, researchers have now created a novel material that can capture light energy.
- The material displayed an energy transfer efficiency of over 96%, making it one of the most efficient aqueous light-harvesting systems of its kind reported thus far.
- They add that it has potential applications in photovoltaics and bioimaging.
Quasicrystal created by nuclear explosion
- On July 16, 1945, the world’s first nuclear explosion test took place at Alamogordo in New Mexico.
- A new material that formed accidentally during the blast has now been discovered.
- Similar to previously discovered quasicrystals, this new example also breaks the rules of classical crystalline materials.
- The new quasicrystal “was found in a sample of red trinitite, a combination of glass fused from natural sand and anthropogenic copper from transmission lines used during the test”.
Agriculture vs pollinators
- Major pollinators are struggling to survive in intensive croplands in the tropics, finds a new study.
- Over 4,500 pollinating species, including insects, birds and bats were studied.
- The team looked at over 300 studies covering 12,170 sites across North and South America, Europe, and Africa.
- More than three-quarters of globally important food crops are at least partly reliant on animal pollination, including nuts, berries, and fruits grown in tropical areas.
- As a result, we may see reduced yields of the many tropical crops that depend on animal pollination.
Making the Milky Way
- About 10 billion years ago, the Milky Way galaxy merged with another satellite galaxy, known as Gaia-Enceladus.
- A new study has now shown what happened to our galaxy after this merger event.
- Many of the stars that were already in the Milky Way ended up in the thick disc in the middle of the galaxy, while most that were captured from Gaia-Enceladus are in the outer halo of the galaxy.
- The researchers say that these studies will give a sharper view of the Milky Way’s assembly history and evolution.
6 UNESCO heritage sites added in India
- Six sites, including the Ganga ghats in Varanasi, temples of Kancheepuram in Tamil Nadu and the Satpura Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh, have been added to India’s tentative list of UNESCO world heritage sites.
- Six of the nine sites submitted by the Archaeological Survey of India had been accepted by UNESCO for inclusion in the tentative list, which is a requirement before the final nomination of any site.
- The recently-included proposals are the Maratha military architecture in Maharashtra, the Hire Bengal megalithic site in Karnataka and Bhedaghat-Lametaghat of Narmada Valley in Madhya Pradesh.
Di-ammonium phosphate or DAP fertilisers
Why in News?
- The government has enhanced the subsidy on di-ammonium phosphate or DAP fertilisers in order to retain the selling price for farmers at the current level of ₹1200 per bag.
- The move, which entails raising the subsidy from ₹500 per bag to ₹1200 per bag of DAP, will raise India’s annual fertiliser subsidy bill of about ₹80,000 crore by ₹14,775 crore as subsidy in the Kharif season.
- While international prices of phosphoric acid and ammonia used for producing DAP have gone up by 60%-70%, the actual price of a DAP bag is now ₹2,400.
- With the existing subsidy, the price would have to be pegged at ₹1900 per bag, but it has been retained at ₹1200 per bag.
‘Infrastructure’ status for convention centres
Why in News?
- The Finance Ministry has granted ‘Infrastructure’ status for exhibition and convention centres, a move that is expected to ease bank financing for such projects.
- ‘Exhibition-cum-Convention Centre is included in the Harmonised Master List of Infrastructure sub-sectors by insertion of a new item in the category of Social and Commercial Infrastructure’.
- However, the benefits available as ‘infrastructure’ projects would only be available for projects with a minimum built-up floor area of 1,00,000 square metres of exclusive exhibition space or convention space or both combined.
- This includes primary facilities such as exhibition centres, convention halls, auditoriums, plenary halls, business centres, meeting halls etc.
- The infrastructure tag no longer involves significant tax breaks but would help such projects get easier financing from banks.
- India doesn’t have large convention centres or single halls with capacities to hold 7,000 to 10,000 people, unlike countries like Thailand that is a major global MICE destination.
- Becoming a MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) destination can generate significant revenue with several global companies active in India but it will take time to become a preferred destination.
China successfully launches new ocean observation satellite
Why in News?
- China successfully sent a new ocean-monitoring satellite into orbit as part of its effort to build an all-weather and round-the-clock dynamic ocean environment monitoring system which would provide early warning on marine disasters.
- The satellite was launched by a Long March-4B rocket carrying the Haiyang-2D (HY-2D) satellite from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwest China.
- The HY-2D will form a constellation with the HY-2B and HY-2C satellites to build an all-weather and round-the-clock dynamic ocean environment monitoring system of high frequency and medium and large scale.
- The constellation will support the country’s early warning and prediction of marine disasters, sustainable development and utilisation of ocean resources, effective response to global climate change as well as ocean research.
- China’s space programme made significant advancements recently when it landed a spacecraft on Mars, becoming the second country after the United States to have a rover on the red planet.
Why in News?
- Recently, the Trinamool Congress government in West Bengal approved the setting up of a Legislative Council in the state.
- It was a promise made by the party in its election manifesto. West Bengal’s Legislative Council was abolished 50 years ago by a coalition government of Left parties.
- Currently, six states — Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Karnataka — have a Legislative Council.
- The setting up of a second chamber is not exclusively in the hands of the state government. The central government also has to pilot a Bill in Parliament.
How Councils came to be
- . The Montagu-Chelmsford reforms led to the formation of the Council of State at the national level in 1919.
- Then the Government of India Act of 1935 set up bicameral legislatures in Indian provinces. It was under this law that a Legislative Council first started functioning in Bengal in 1937.
- During the framing of the Constitution, there was disagreement in the Constituent Assembly on having a second chamber in states.
- The arguments in support of Rajya Sabha — that a second chamber acts as a check on hasty legislation and brings diverse voices into legislatures — did not cut ice with many Constituent Assembly members when it came to the states.
- The framers of the Constitution provided that in the beginning, the states of Bihar, Bombay, Madras, Punjab, the United Provinces and West Bengal would have a Legislative Council.
- Then they gave states the option of abolishing an existing second chamber or setting up a new one by passing a resolution in their Legislative Assembly.
- The Constitution also gave the Legislative Assembly the power to overrule the Council if there was a disagreement between them on a law. The Constitution also capped the membership of the council to one-third of the popularly elected Legislative Assembly.
- Article 168 of the Constitution empowers the Legislative Assembly to create or abolish a Legislative Council by passing a resolution. The resolution has to be passed by two-thirds of the Assembly members. Then a Bill to this effect has to be passed by Parliament.
Why in News?
- A new cyclonic storm, named Cyclone Yaas, is expected to start forming in the Bay of Bengal.
- Low pressure of the new cyclonic storm is expected to start forming in the Bay of Bengal by May 22. May 23 should mark depression stage, and the final cyclonic storm is expected to hit by May 24-25.
- The cyclone Yaas will hit the coasts of Odisha and West Bengal on May 26. Meanwhile, both the states will experience heavy rainfall from May 22 to 26.
- There are relatively more cyclonic storms in the month of May and November, particularly in the Bay of Bengal—coinciding with the arrival and exit of the monsoon—than in the rest of the year because of elevated ocean temperatures.
- COVID-19 is a recent disease and at times it displays symptoms which no other viral infection does.
- While researchers are developing understanding about the short and long-term impact on the body we now know that one may develop new symptoms six months to one year after recovering from COVID.
- The term given to this is long COVID.
- Studies have shown that after a COVID-19 infection, antibodies may persist for three to nine months, which prevent re-infections.
- The current data from India and other countries indicate that re-infections are rare.
- Long-term effects may include fatigue, respiratory symptoms, and neurological symptoms.
- Long COVID refers to when people continue to experience symptoms of COVID-19 and do not fully recover for several weeks or months after the start of their symptoms.
Rapid antigen testing (RAT) kit
Why in News?
- The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) approved a home-based rapid antigen testing (RAT) kit for COVID-19, which it advised should be used only on symptomatic individuals and on immediate contacts of laboratory confirmed positive cases.
- The home-based rapid antigen testing kit manufactured by Mylab Discovery Solutions Ltd, Pune, has been validated and approved.
- Only nasal swab will be required for this rapid antigen testing.
- All individuals who test positive through the RAT kit may be considered as true positives and no repeat testing is required.
- All symptomatic individuals who test negative by RAT should get themselves immediately tested by RT-PCR. This is especially important as the RATs are likely to miss few positive cases presenting with a low viral load.